Tag Archives: Anglican Communion

Renewal in the Spirit: The Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter to the Anglican Communion

Brian made this picture while Rowan Williams, ...
Image via Wikipedia

[Note: The following is a summary of the Archbishop's Pentecost letter to the Communion.  I will respond with my own thoughts when I have the chance, but I wanted to pass this along to those who might not see this elsewhere. -JBH]

Friday 28 May 2010

In his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury encourages Anglicans to pray for renewal in the Spirit and focus on the priority of mission, so that ‘we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible’.

The Archbishop acknowledges that Anglicans are experiencing a period of transition in the world: ‘when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.’

In response to the current situation the Archbishop makes clear that when a province ‘declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard to see how members of that province can be placed in position where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues…and our faith-and-order related groups.’

Continue reading

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. » Is The Renunciation of Orders Routine?

As if things weren’t already bizarre enough, the choice of the Presiding Bishop to claim that Bishop Scriven (formerly assitant Bishop of Pittsburgh) has voluntarily renounced his orders has taken things to a new level.  Bishop Scriven has accepted an appointment to head the South American Mission Society which is now merging with the Church Mission Society.  On top of this, he was accepted into the Diocese of Oxford.  The last time I checked, the Episcopal Church was in Communion with the Church of England, and one of the basic elements of Communion is the interchangability of orders–something that was foundational as the Anglican Communion emerged as an international body, and which is one of the first steps in any process of unity with other Christian bodies (consider “Called to Common Mission”, the agreement between the ELCA and TEC which allows the interchangability of orders.)  While, given the nature of our conflict, it is easy to assign nefarious intent to actions such as these, I can’t see any rhyme or reason to doing something that makes you look so foolish.  So is it intentional vindictiveness or simply ineptitude?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Defenders of the Presiding Bishop are scrambling to re-interpret her extraordinary action of depriving a bishop of the Church of England of the gifts and authority conferred in his ordination and removing him from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.  For example, the group supporting the Presiding Bishop in Pittsburgh stated that “[t]his is a routine way of permitting Bishop Scriven to continue his ministry.”  In the strange world of TEC, renunciation of orders has become a routine way of continuing one’s ministry.

But it is not routine.  Indeed, it has not been used for those transferring from TEC to another province in the Anglican Communion until the Presiding Bishop began what resembles a scorched-earth approach to her opponents within TEC.  Not surprisingly, in the past such matters have been handled by letter.  One can see the evolution of the Presiding Bishop’s “routine” policy in the treatment of Bishop David Bena, who was transferred by letter by his diocesan bishop to the Church of Nigeria in February 2007.  A month later, the Presiding Bishop wrote Bishop Bena and informed him that “by this action you are no longer a member of the House of Bishops” and that she had informed the Secretary of the House to remove him from the list of members.  That was all that needed to be done.  A year later, however, as her current strategy emerged, she suddenly declared in January 2008 that she had accepted Bishop Bena’s renunciation of orders using the canon she now uses against Bishop Scriven.  In other words, if this is now sadly routine, it has only become routine in the past year.

Not only is this not routine, it was not necessary.  As we pointed out in our original statement, Bishop Scriven ceased to be an Assistant Bishop in TEC and thereby ceased to be a member of TEC’s House of Bishops the moment Bishop Duncan was deposed.  This was a constitutional disqualification imposed on Bishop Scriven by Article I.2 of TEC’s constitution.  Canonically speaking, he ceased to be a bishop in TEC at that point. His original status as a bishop of the Church of England was not thereby affected, of course, and upon requesting and receiving an honorary role in the Diocese of Oxford that became his formal diocesan home.  All that was necessary in January 2009 was for TEC to conform its records to this fact.

{read it all}

The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt: A Statement Regarding the Formation of a new Anglican Church

Many of you will have read in the newspapers of the formation of a new “Anglican Church in North America” earlier this month. The new body is the result of agreements reached between a number of churches and organizations, gathered under the “Common Cause Partnership”, all of which have their origins in either the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada.

Some have wondered about the status of this church, and about its intention to seek recognition as a province of the Anglican Communion. A basic principal of catholic Christianity is that it is not self-authenticating; its credentials cannot be established by the mere assertion of them. Christian faith looks to authorities, as well: the Scriptures, principally, but also Creeds and Councils that articulate them reasonably and traditionally, and all of which communicate the Gospel and act as a standard by which faith is recognized and acknowledged. Anglicanism itself represents a distinctive witness within the Christian faith, with its own markers and measures. A particular church (any particular church) always looks beyond itself in some way in the key points of its existence, and others will evaluate it accordingly.

However we view this new church in terms of these things, we must recognize that membership in the Anglican Communion is not something claimed unilaterally or seized by force. Sharp elbows may be useful in any number of contexts, but are hardly edifying or effective in this one. A request to be admitted as a province must be approved by the Primates’ Meeting and then acted upon by the Anglican Consultative Council, two of the Instruments of Communion that have developed within Anglicanism to help bring coherence to its life. The constituent bodies of the Anglican Church in North America are not known for a willingness to pay much heed to any of the Instruments of Communion. It is even doubtful that they are much interested in any authentication that looks to the existing structures of the world-wide Communion. Their witness is predicated on a self-proclaimed unwillingness to wait for these structures to work.

{Read it all}

Covenant: A New "Province" in North America: Neither the Only Nor the Right Answer for the Communion, by Ephraim Radner

A new “province” for North American Anglicans is now promised to be “up and running” in the next month or so. It will comprise the 3-4 dioceses that have voted to leave TEC; the associations of various congregations that have left TEC (e.g. CANA) and those started outside of TEC from departing groups; it will also include congregations and denominations within the Anglican tradition that have formed over the past decades in North America. All of these groups now form part of an association called Common Cause.

The formation of this new “province” appears to be a fait accompli. It will presumably provide formal stability for the congregations and their plants who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as some kind of more easily grasped relationship with some other parts of the Anglican Communion. It is important to note, however, that such a new grouping will also not solve the problems of traditional Anglicans in North America, and that it will pose new problems to the Communion as a whole. As a member of the Covenant Design Group, committed to a particular work of providing a new framework for faithful communion life in Christ among Anglicans, I want to be clear about how the pressing forward of this new grouping within its stated terms poses some serious problems:

 1. The new grouping will not, contrary to the stated claims of some of its proponents, embrace all or even most traditional Anglicans in North America. For instance, the Communion Partners group within TEC, comprises 13 dioceses as a whole, and a host of parishes and their rectors, whose total Sunday membership is upwards of 300,000. It is unlikely that these will wish to be a part of the new grouping, for some of the reasons stated below.

 2. The new grouping, through some of its founding members, will continue in litigation within the secular courts for many years. This continues to constitute a sad spectacle, and is, in any case, practically and morally unfeasible for most traditional Anglicans.

{Read it all}

What is Realignment? | Covenant

As many of my readers will know, the Diocese of Quincy became the third Diocese to remove themselves from the Episcopal Church, USA recently.  The official line from TEC is still, of course, that only individuals can leave, not Dioceses or parishes.  Yet, I believe out natural human inclination to say that such-and-such parish or such-and-such diocese has left is revelatory.  It reveals the truth that a parish or a diocese is nothing if not made up of the people within it.  It also reveals that the claims of the Episcopal Church to a certain type of formal authority and heirarchy are not only on historically thin ice, but simply do not fit the reality of the moment.

Sometimes attempts at clarification help more than arguments. This is especially true of marital quarrels: I’ll rarely convince my wife I’m right about this or that course of action, but I can at least try to explain what I thought I was doing.

It may be helpful, in light of Fr Dan Martins’ compelling essay, to explain briefly what Quincy thinks it did last Friday afternoon. I can’t claim to speak for the diocese. But I can work through some theological reasons employed at the synod (from the debate itself, and addresses by Bishops Ackerman, Beckwith, and Parsons as well) to try to explain what Quincy thinks it did. This may or may not correspond to what it actually did. I’m not going to judge the synod’s action, which means I’ll neither agree nor disagree with Fr Martins’ assessment of it. I’m merely going to use his terms – rebellion and revolution – to explain what Quincy thinks it did.

The nearest dictionary defines rebellion as “an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler,” and revolution, “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.” Fr Martins rightly notes their virtual synonymity. Different shades of meaning only emerge retrospectively, when history’s victors tell their story – when, that is, rebels become revolutionaries by successfully establishing and valorizing their own regimes. However, rebellion and revolution are identical in one objective condition: the rejection of established political authority.

It wouldn’t be hard to imagine how to apply these terms to the present situation, even if Fr Martin hadn’t already ably done so. A rebellion is in progress, the rebellion of a handful of dioceses against TEC – which nevertheless may in the long-term end up looking more like a revolution. Only time will tell.

Perhaps. The problem with this way of understanding Friday’s action is that Quincy doesn’t think it has rebelled or revolted. I’ve already implicitly explained why. To rebel or revolt, there has to be some established political authority to rebel or revolt against. And though many will beg to differ, Quincy emphatically does not think it has rejected an established political authority. Neither therefore has it rebelled or revolted.

{Read it all}

A Word in Time: An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion | Covenant

A number of the authors at Covenant have been working on an open letter in recent days.  The following is the final version which has been posted over at Covenant.  Please read it all.

August 25, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We the undersigned contributors to Covenant-Communion.com believe that “a word in time” is now needed in order to assist the Communion to move forward in a constructive manner following the Lambeth Conference. We would like to speak such a word by specifically addressing the points Bishop Bob Duncan raises in his email to Bishop Gary Lillibridge, which has now been made public with Bp. Duncan’s permission. Our reflections are offered with all due respect for Bishop Duncan as a dear friend to some of us, and one whom those of us who know him personally admire as a stalwart in the faith. Bishop Duncan’s words are quoted in italics with our reflections following.

A Word in Time: An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion | Covenant

Out of Africa: A Kenyan missionary sets his sights on Manchester

Six years ago, when Cyprian Yobera moved into Clevedon Street, one of the five, this enclave in the north-east of the city had seemingly been forgotten by everyone but the dealers, the prostitutes and local gangs. The council’s preferred solution was to knock it down. “About 50 per cent of the houses were boarded-up and covered with graffiti,” recalls Yobera, who comes from Nairobi in Kenya. “There was rubbish behind the unused houses, young people making them into dens, drugs being done, needles left lying around and petty crime was thriving.”

An odd place, then, to relocate your family from halfway across the world. But 43-year-old Yobera, his teacher wife Jayne and their two small daughters did not arrive by accident in an area designated in 2004 by a government survey as the most deprived in England in terms of income, unemployment, health, education, housing and crime. They believe they were called there by God.

Yobera is an Anglican priest and came to Harpurhey as part of a revolutionary project organised by the Church Mission Society. Once, dog-collared missionaries set out from Europe to convert the “heathens” of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Today, the traffic is no longer one-way: Africa is sending men such as Yobera back to minister to “heathen” Britain.

“Kenya has material poverty,” Yobera tells me, “but we saw poverty here in a new way – a spiritual poverty. All sense of community was missing. Our minds were blown by that. Missionary work in Kenya is easy. You stand on a street with a guitar and a crowd will come. People there are very sympathetic to the gospel message. Here, even the basic Bible stories are absent. People only know Jesus as a swear word.

Out of Africa: A Kenyan missionary sets his sights on Manchester – Features, The New Review – The Independent

The Anglican Spirit: Theology

Archbishop Michael Ramsey

Archbishop Michael Ramsey

“First of all, the close connection between theology, doctrine, and Christian worship is very powerful in Hooker. He describes what we believe very much in terms of how we worship. That has remained a characteristic of Anglican theology right into the present century, and German theologians, very rigorous in their academic method, have sometimes laughed at Anglican theologians for doing their theology to the sound of church bells. Well, continue to do theology to the sound of church bells, for that is what Christian theology really is all about–worshiping God the Savior through Jesus Christ in the theology of the apostolic age.”(The Anglican Spirit, 8-9)


The Anglican Spirit